One should never abandon their passion. Yesterday, I left a party early to scurry home to feast on a kale salad; I slipped under the covers, giddy, because come morning I would bake my very first Irish Soda Bread. It’s been quite some time since I powered up the stand mixer and cranked the oven, but amidst all the recent work-related frenzy, I’m determined to have work-life balance.
Even as I type I can smell the heady sweetness of cherries, the citrus of orange zest and the flakiness of warm bread. Who wouldn’t want to wake in the morning to this?
This Irish Soda Bread recipe comes courtesy of Ina Garten, but since I couldn’t find currants in my larder, I settled for cherries.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for cherries
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet and incredibly sticky. Make sure you flour your hands as the dough will instantly cling to them.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.